The National Council on Aging estimates that about 65% of Americans will need help with everyday activities, such as bathing or walking, at some point in their lives. Long-term care planning is the process of preparing for the possibility of disability or illness.

Asking friends or family members to care for you during your illness or injury is not ideal. After all, providing consistent care may require time and skills your loved ones lack. By planning early, you achieve some peace of mind.

Nursing home or in-home care

If you cannot care for yourself, you may need either nursing home or in-home care. Both tend to be expensive.

Therefore, you likely want to focus on financial planning as soon as possible. After all, Medicare may or may not cover these expenses. The same is true for Medicaid, provided you qualify for the needs-based program.

An advance directive

If a disability or illness renders you incapable of making your own medical decisions, you probably do not want to leave your health care to chance. Luckily, you can memorialize your care wishes in a legally binding document.

As part of your overall estate plan, consider executing an advance directive. This document tells your relatives, friends and medical professionals exactly what procedures you want and do not want.

A power of attorney

Even if you devote significant attention to your advance directive, you may not be able to plan for every contingency. If you designate a power of attorney, though, he or she can make medical decisions on your behalf.

It is never to early to think about long-term care planning. With a power of attorney, advance directive and some financial preparation, you can be certain you are ready for any injury or illness.